Conditions could not have been more perfect for the third running of Le Petit Brevet. Dry, calm and for Saturday anyway, a glorious cloud cover that prevented riders getting burnt to a crisp.
Thirty six riders faced the daunting task of a 300 km route pock marked with incessantly steep climbs on some of the Peninsulas Roads (8000 m in all) and some rough, at times un-rideable single track and 4-wheel drive tracks thrown in for good measure.
Why? A question I’m sure many of us asked many times over the course of the event, but in reality, for the comradeship, the beautiful surroundings and the mere challenge of completing such a daunting task.
Mood was chippa at the traditional meeting point – Hansen Park, and with time keeping that would see most Olympic officials completely horrified, we set off at 8 am ‘around the dot’! It was great too see both Rod and Geof lining up for their third successive Le Petit Brevet. No single speeders or cyclocrosses this year, obviously both fads that have seen their time; however, for the second year in a row, a tandem was in the field with Jon and Mel looking eager and ready to get on with it.
The pace seemed less furious up Rapaki than in previous years as the bunch slowly made their way up. There was no chance for coffee at
either, the café earmarked as another earthquake victim. Dyers Pass
The first ‘real’ climb of the day came from Purau as riders weaved their way up to Purau Saddle before veering right and beginning the long off-road section traversing the Monument and Double Fence Line tracks. The distance and altitude gain are daunting enough in themselves, however it’s the rough off-road sections, with multiple dismounts and very slow progress that really define the Brevet to me.
Most would have been relieved to make it to Little River, happy that the worse was behind them, and make use of the two excellent cafes on offer before the relentless climbs of
and Pipers Valley
Roads. Incidentally, Joe was caught talking on his mobile twice (while riding)
on the Monument Track and Piper Valley Climb. He told me he was a geologist of
some sorts however I’m sure he moonlights as an international money trader. Reynolds
Mean while Jon and Mel on their tandem melted their brake pads on the descent down Harmans and Jubilee, but showing true grit (and perhaps a little stupidness) pushed on via a wee detour to descend
in the dark with a
front brake only. They are still alive and still together you will be pleased
to know. Purple
The water at Little Akaloa had its usual warning that it wasn’t fit for consumption, but it’s definitely gone down hill from previous years. The meagre trickle, despite being treated with iodine and isotonic solutions still tasted like it had come directly from the rear end of a bovine, as it probably did. It tasted so foul I stopped a bit later on and added more of everything.
Double Dutch Backpackers had the vacancy sign out and I wondered how long that would last as
Big Hill Road
loomed. As always, it didn’t disappoint and the reward was a cool breeze on the
summit road which saw participants diving into their bags for warm clothes.
Once the rocky unridable section was over with,
was a breeze and Akaroa with its shops and restaurants a welcome site after a
very long day of riding – although due to the distance from the start, the shops
and restaurants were of dubious use to most due to the late hour of arrival. Purple Peak
Phil Brownie highly recommends the tussocks next to the public toilets in Akaroa for a good cheap night’s accommodation; if he had of looked harder he would have found the remnants of Jurgen’s and my cold pie.
The short Old French Road section was disappointingly closed and controlled by cows, but it gave me a chance to catch up to Joe and Jurgen. However Joe then saw the next hill (
and chomping at the bit, left me trailing an ever decreasingly small red light,
something Jurgen did to me on Port Levy Saddle a bit later in the night.
Incidentally, Hamish and Richard can point out a good road side sleeping spot
near the top of Port Levy Rd.
if you ever feel like a weekend away with the family.
To some the Rail Trail and the Canterbury Plans was a blessing in disguise, to others it just seemed to prolong the agony. Neil probably hated it the most and after 4 punctures (his tools had rubbed through all of his spare tubes), and a broken pump, he hitched a ride back to the start… with only the flat bit and one wee bump to go. Good enough for a finish in my books.
Special mention must also go to Alastair McDowell. Previous longest ride…wait for it… 90 km! I’m not too sure what Alastair was thinking but he managed to ride the entire course in 34 hours and 45 minutes!
All up we raised $800 for Hinewai Reserve… a fantastic result. I know Hugh (an avid cyclist himself and caretaker of the reserve) will be stoked. If you get the chance and feel like a slightly more relaxed day or weekend away on the
Peninsula, the walking trails of Hinewai are definitely
worth a visit.
Happy cycling, and hope to see you back next year,